When the AWB Theatre troupe accepts an invitation to perform on the tropical island of Illyria, they get more than they bargained for. Sudden death. Mark Louis, company member and amateur detective, suspects murder. The actors, however, must return home to New York, forcing Mark to conduct his investigation a thousand miles from the crime.
A squatter, grimier than most, shuffled along the tree-lined dirt road. A bicycle rolled by him, but he ignored it, staring instead at a woman, another squatter, bucket in each hand, who approached along the road, heading for the nearby spring. He decided she would be the one.
The woman approached a triangle of golden light filtering through the trees. As she stepped into the light, the man moved to her side of the road. She looked his way and smiled. The smile startled the man, and he paused as the woman passed back into shadow. His surprise had allowed the woman to pass by unharmed, and it angered him. He continued to walk, looking for the next one.
Another bicycle, this one coming toward him, roiled up the dust of the road, and he averted his face. When he turned back, he saw another woman approaching. She carried nothing, perhaps heading to the marketplace for some early shopping. He kept his eyes averted until she was just steps away. He quickly surveyed the road. They were alone. He pulled out the sharp butcher knife he had brought with him from home and pressed it tightly against his right leg. The woman came even with him, and as she stepped past, he threw his left arm around the shocked woman, pulling her head back and exposing her brown neck. He drew the knife across her flesh. Blood spurted, and the woman crumpled.
The man looked up and down the empty road. With a swing of his leg, he pushed the woman's body over the edge of the dirt road. It rolled down the hill until it stopped, its legs entangled in undergrowth. He turned and hurried away. It had been easy.
Mark Louis just feels as if there is something missing in his life. He lacks direction. He’s an actor, and an author, and he helped solve a murder several months ago, but still, he doesn’t feel focused. He confides this malaise to his girl friend, Kristy, as the small AWB Theatre Company heads to the tropical island of Illyria at the request of Mr. Barset, who is trying to turn the island into a paradise resort. The AWB company is to perform some Shakespeare to help woo investors. But as soon as they arrive on the island they are caught up in several murders. Mark is no longer lacking direction. When Kristy comments on this he says, “I should depend on different friends being murdered to keep me from getting depressed?”.
This is an exciting mystery which Mark has to solve long-distance as the theatre company only stays on Illyria for a few days. Mark comes up with various explanations which his friends find very far-fetched, something that a writer might think up. But Mark never gives up, and eventually, with some help from Kristy, he solves the case.
This is the second novel in this series and I feel it is even stronger than the first. The characters are fairly well developed and the plot has a number of twists and turns. I did figure things out, at least in a general way, before Mark did, but not by much. The island of Illyria seemed very real, and a trifle sad, as it was supposed to do. I loved all the Shakespeare quotes and I agree with Mark that the Bard has a quote for any situation. The clever ways Twelfth Night contributed to the plot just increased my enjoyment of the novel.
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